05 September 2009

Colourful mangroves: Animals!

Brightly coloured crabs scuttled on the mud just below the Sungei Buloh Mangrove Boardwalk!
I have no idea what they are!

These tiny crabs with triangular bodies were foraging on the mud near mud lobster mounds. They build burrows without a chimney.
Here's another bunch of mystery crabs with bright orange pincers. They don't seem to be fiddler crabs as they have long pincers that are of equal size. They might be the Orange signaller crab (Metaplex elegans).
These are definitely fiddler crabs (Uca sp.), the males with one enlarged pincer, and females with two small equal sized pincers.
AND another group of fiddler crabs. I'm not sure if they are the same as the ones above.
The enlarged pincer is rather stout, and we've seen these crabs at Chek Jawa too. I'm starting to get the sense that these might be Rosy fiddlers (Uca rosea).
As the tides started to rise, the enormous tree climbing crabs (Episesarma sp.) started climbing trees to get away from predators swimming in with the tide. Some of them have very colourful pincers.
While not very colourful, mudskippers are fascinating to watch.
The medium-sized Yellow-spotted mudskippers (Periophthalmus walailake) are very well camouflaged until they raise their bright orange and black dorsal fins. I notice this happens when two of these mudskippers come too close to one another. Usually, one will then chase the other.
The really gianormous Giant mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) has black stripes along the body. It is less energetic, probably because no one messes with them. With googly eyes and a bumpy snout on a muscular and huge body, it sure looks like a thug of a fish.
Another creature that is not immediately endearing are snails. But these humungous Belongkeng snails (Ellobium sp.) are rare. So it was a real treat to see many of them today. And it looks like they were busy getting ready to make new snails. Good!
Having done many of the basic fact sheets on the common invertebrates, I thought I should get started on the vertebrates. Not my favourite group of animals. But they are commonly encountered in our mangroves.

Everybody loves the Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator). Those at Sungei Buloh are rather bold and can be large. Here's a small one that still has its pretty flower-like patterns on the body. And it is showing us how to swim properly. We should hold our limbs against our body and use our long tail to propel ourselves in an elegant and unsplashy manner. Chay Hoon says this is how divers should move in the water. Ok, we use our feet to fin I guess since we don't have a tail.
Another pretty reptile is the skink. It has a scaly body and can move very rapidly. So it's hard to take a nice photo of it.
Buloh of course is famous for its waders. And migratory season seems to be starting up with lots of little birds seen from the Main Hide, as well as white egrets.
But I am really very poorly motivated to be interested in vertebrates. So I'll stop here and plunge on with the colourful plants we saw today!


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